Since the beginning of the season, a significant shift in guard has occurred in the AHL. Out of the top 10 scorers from the previous season, only one remains in the top 20 this year. Additionally, three of the top five scorers this season are 22 years old or younger. The league benefits from this shift as it brings out younger players with higher potential, leading to better game quality and more visibility. For the first updates of the season, here are a few players who exemplify this evolution of the league.
Joshua Roy #10 – Laval Rocket
While Roy may not possess the standout raw skills that make him a standout player, he excels at what every pooler values the most – producing points. Since the beginning of the season, he is tenth in goals with five, tied for tenth in assists with seven, and tied for fifth in total points with 12. On the ice, Roy is a powerful playmaker. Although he has an above-average shot, he prefers using dekes and his body to create opportunities for his linemates. To ultimately graduate to the NHL, Roy will need to continue working hard and utilize his strengths, particularly his vision and his hands, in order to continue defying the odds.
Isak Rosen #18 – Rochester Americans
So far in his second season in the AHL, Rosen has taken a significant step in the right direction in many aspects of his game. The major difference from his previous season is his increased involvement without the puck. In my watching’s, Rosen has transitioned from being relatively uninvolved to constantly being in motion. When on the ice, you will rarely see him standing still; he’s always skating to get open or to support his teammates. However, this change has had some negative impacts. Towards the end of shifts, he tends to get less effective because he spends so much energy on the ice. Additionally, he sometimes anticipates puck movement too quickly, leading to situations where he leaves the defensive zone prematurely. A great aspect of Rosen’s game is his versatility. He not only plays a role on the powerplay but also spends some time on the penalty kill. On the penalty kill, I appreciate how he uses his skating to apply significant pressure to the opposing team, especially during zone entries. Finally, Rosen is worth keeping an eye on for poolers as he has all the skills to succeed in the NHL.
Daniil Gushchin #75 – San Jose Barracuda
When watching highlights of Gushchin, one might wonder how a player with so much offensive skill could fall to the third round. With the early production he showcases, the questions might become even more significant. However, you only need to watch one game of him to understand why some scouts might not have been high on him. Besides his elite offensive skills, Gushchin does not contribute much value to his team in other aspects of the game. In the defensive zone, he is often seen waiting for turnovers to happen, and when it’s time to exit the zone, he lacks the maturity to stay and help out his defensemen. His play in the defensive zone reminds me of a pre-Stanley Cup Alexander Ovechkin, minus the size to deliver hard hits. Due to the poor roster the Sharks have, we might see him in the NHL again soon. However, poolers must be aware that if he can’t improve the rest of his game, his offensive prowess might not outweigh his defensive liabilities, potentially resulting in limited ice time.
Nils Aman #88 – Abbotsford Canucks
After always being considered a two-way center with limited offensive skills, Aman has finally improved his production this year. One reason for this is that Abbotsford has found a good spot for him on the powerplay at the bumper position. He’s effective there due to his size and above-average shot. Another factor contributing to his increased production this season is his team. Abbotsford is currently the highest-scoring team in the AHL with 39 goals, and when you play significant minutes on a team like that, you end up with points. That being said, it’s still a significant step in the right direction for Aman, who had difficulty producing last season during his stint with Vancouver.
Arshdeep Bains #9 – Abbotsford Canucks
It’s difficult to talk about prospects in the AHL and not mention the league’s top scorer, Arshdeep Bains. The undrafted winger who signed with the Canucks in 2022, already looks like a steal. In only 10 games this season, Bains has three goals and 13 assists, totaling 16 points. Although he isn’t the biggest winger at six feet, he plays a physical game. He’s never afraid of physical plays, and with a mix of speed and aggressiveness, he becomes a dangerous threat in the offensive zone. On the powerplay, he currently plays a setup role with Abbottsford, but I can envision him being more of a net-front presence in the NHL. Bains can do everything on the ice at a good level, and that makes him a name to remember for any poolers and fans.
Thank you for reading this month’s AHL Update on Dobber Prospects. For more analysis, you can follow me on Twitter: @cbturcotte17.